Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

Awareness raising in Pakistan through short film competition

An initiative of Rutgers Pakistan engaged 2 universities in Islamabad to capacitate future media professionals on the importance of documentaries and short films. The project titled ‘SRHR-FOCUS’ capacitated 60 media students on making short documentaries and films on child marriage, domestic violence and HIV & AIDS.

Snippet from winning film Born With It

The themes are heavily stigmatised, tabooed and culturally woven into the fabric of Pakistani society. Due to which millions are affected in attaining a livelihood. Where the Pakistani media has the power to influence minds and behaviours, the lack of such issues being highlighted further perpetuate the situation in Pakistan. 

The students were invited to participate in a short film/documentary competition. This was achieved through workshops and counseling sessions held in universities and through an competition to encourage students to develop Audio/Visual content. 

Capacity Building Workshops 

Since the mainstream media does not highlight these issues, the students did not have an understanding of child marriage, domestic violence and HIV & AIDS. A two day workshop was organised each at the two selected universities. Day one of the workshop covered the project themes and to create an understanding of the project themes, their causes, effects and how they could be addressed. Day two of the workshop was designed to prepare the students both technically and esthetically to make short documentaries and films.  During the workshops well known media professionals, social activists and academicians were engaged.

Counseling Sessions

Four counseling sessions were held with students after the workshops. These counseling sessions were designed to guide the students with their stories and provide them with technical and esthetical information. 

Short Film/Documentary Competition

Towards the end of the project, students from both univerisites submitted 11 short documentaries and films out of which 6 were selected for a screening event. The screening event was to recognise the efforts made by students and to share their work with various organisations. A panel of judges reviewed the films and decided the best three films. 

Submissions (watch them on vimeo)

  • Born With It  (winner)
  • Seeking Shelter  (runner up)
  • Things you Cannot Recover (third)
  • Child Marriage
  • Breaking Taboos 
  • A story of AIDS

Through this project, Rutgers, Pakistan has established linkages with Universities and young people. The Short Films/Documentaries produced on child marriage, domestic violence and HIV & AIDS by university students has increased the availability of audio/visual resources readily available online.